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Water and oxygen. Those are two of the things you absolutely need to survive in most environments. Oxygen is practically free and ever accessible wherever you go, but water? Water can be scarce. If you are going on a camping trip or spending some time in the wild, drinking water from unknown sources is dangerous and can even put you on your death bed. Hence, in order to be safe and drinking clean water no matter where you go, you need the best water purification tablets.
In this post, we spent two weeks drinking nothing else but tablet-purified water from seven water purification tablets, just to help you in finding out the best tablet that works best. After our thorough testing, we discovered that the Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus is the best water purification tablet that you can buy right now. We loved the it tablet because it is one of the safest and most effective options you can use. These tablets don’t turn your water brown, have a less offensive taste, and do not come with potentially harmful health effects. Aside from this product, we also reviewed six other water purification tablets, with the aim of helping you to make the final choice.
In this water purification tablets review, we considered several important features that when considered, can help with making the right buying decision. Some of these factors include pack, dosage, weight, effective against, shelf life, wait time, and more. We have also provided a comparison table, an in-depth review of each product, and a buying guide. We hope that after reading this post, you will be better equipped in selecting the right water purification tablet.
"The Coghlan’s drinking water tablets help to kill harmful microorganisms and other things in the water that can harm you. It delivers a decent protective performance while coming at a really low price."
"The active ingredient in these tablets is chlorine dioxide and it kills bacteria, cysts, and viruses, which is more than most filters. They also have the added benefit of killing Cryptosporidium if you wait for four hours."
"These water tablets are chlorine dioxide tablets that are arguably the most efficient type of chemical water purification. They are able to eliminate a wide range of microorganisms that chlorine or iodine based tablets are unable to do."
"These tablets help to neutralize viruses, bacteria, and Giardia cysts as you traverse the backcountry. They are super easy to use and will serve correctly as long as you measure out the right amount of water."
"These tablets are proven effective against Giardia Lamblia when used as directed. PA Plus Tablets remove iodine taste and color from water, and that makes them the best tasting water purification tablets."
More features: used by military, 50 tablets PA+Plus
The Potable Aqua Plus water purification tablets is a two-part kit; purification tablets and neutralizing tablets to remove the distinct iodine taste and color from the purification tablets, and you’ll get enough 50 tablets of each so you’ll be able to purify 25 quarts or liters. This kit makes water bacteriologically safe to drink and taste good, all in roughly 40 minutes and is intended for short term and emergency use. While you could boil the water, but if you’re on the move or don’t have access to fuel, then this is a convenient alternative to get safe drinking water.
The active component in the purifying tablets is 20 milligrams of Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide (TGHP) which releases 8 milligrams (ppm) of titratable iodine as well as hypoiodous acid (HIO). Both are effective germicidal compounds, e.g. bacteria, viruses and many cysts such as giardia lamblia. The iodine in the tablets purifies the water by penetrating the cell wall of microorganisms and killing them, some of the organisms it kills include E-coli, salmonella, streptococcus faecalis, and infectious hepatitis, among others.
Gladly the taste and color is no problem with the Potable Aqua Plus kit, because you get a bottle of PA Plus neutralizing tablets that almost instantly remove both the iodine taste and the color, making it look and taste like regular water (although it does not remove particles so muddy water will still be muddy).
These purification tablets are very easy to use. Add 2 tablets from the bottle with a white screw cap to a quart/liter of water, with the cap loosely screwed on to allow a small amount of leakage. Wait 5 minutes and shake the bottle to moisten the screw threads and then tighten the cap. Wait 30 minutes before drinking. That’s it.
As long as it is properly stored, an unopened bottle of Potable Aqua tablets can be stored for four years without losing its effectiveness.
More features: iodine-based compound gives no unpleasant taste
The Coghlan’s Drinking Water Tablets represent an effective way of purifying most water sources. It doesn’t replace a water filter or is recommended for home use. In case you have a well, and the water goes bad from time to time, you can use these. The same goes for other situations when the water you can drink is not safe to drink. Such water tablets purify water thanks to the chemicals they contain, so that’s why you can’t use these regularly.
Giardia cysts are hard to kill unless you boil the water, but now you can simply add two tabs in 1 quarter of water and wait for 30 minutes in order to get rid of it. Since 50 tabs are enough for 25 quarters of water, the ideal tab usage is 2 per quarter. Other microorganisms don’t stand a chance either. The bottle comes with a cotton tab inside it, which you should keep in once you open it. This is because it absorbs moisture that otherwise would make the top rust and lower the quality of the tablets.
These tablets offer standard protection, just like several water purification tablets. These tablets come with instructions in English and are very reliable. The shelf life is relatively long, and each box comes with a manufacturing date that can serve as a guideline.
Wait time: 15 minutes for Viruses and Bacteria in all water, 30 minutes for Cypto and Giardia in normal water (60ºF, clear water), and 4 hours for Cypto in worst case water (39º F, very dirty, slightly acidic water, i.e.)
Shelf life: 5 years
More features: release chlorine dioxide, the same substance used in municipal drinking water plants worldwide
It might not be the fastest, but it is one of, if not the most effective and thorough eliminators of harmful substances in contaminated water. It is a topwater purification tablet that kills all microorganisms, including cryptosporidium. The Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets have one of the best taste of all the organism-fighting tablets and come in a durable package that is still fairly easy to open. Water purified with these tablets didn’t irritate my skin or throat at all. However, it should be noted that we have been using the tablets for a while now. If you are just using them, they might itch your throat or skin until you get used to them. Irritation and side effects are different for every person. These tablets are also fairly cheap comparatively, which gave this option bonus value points as well.
A great product to have in your emergency kit the Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets take an extremely long time to treat contaminated water, up to 4 hours fully. We would only recommend this product as a back-up or part of your purification system, especially if you’re worried about viruses in your water. The active ingredient in these tablets is chlorine dioxide (think bleach but with less harmful effects), and it kills bacteria, cysts, and viruses, which is more than most filters. They also have the added benefit of killing Cryptosporidium if you wait for four hours, which iodine tablets do not do. The water purification tablets from Katadyn are effective against all sorts of microorganisms, being able to render all type of water drinkable. You can choose a 20- or 30-tablet pack. Unlike the previous entry, these tablets are labeled as being able to treat 1 liter of water.
Additionally, this product meets EPA water purifier test standards.
More features: drinking water purification, hospital disinfection, baby bottle sterilizing
While we have been discussing iodine-based water purification tablets, the Ef chlor portable water purification tablets are chlorine-based. Arguably the most common method of water purification, chlorine is used in almost all commercial treatment plants. The process of purification, known as chlorination, was discovered more than a century ago.
It has the fastest treatment time of any purification tablets, requiring about 30 mins to treat the water.
These are effervescent tablets that kill microorganisms in the water to prevent cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and other water-borne diseases. Ef Chlor is used in emergencies and also for continuous use in households that do not have access to safe drinking water.
Each Ef Chlor tablet contains a measured dose of Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate, commonly referred to as NaDCC. When added to water Efchlor dissolves to release a measured dose of hypochlorous acid (free available chlorine) that is universally recognized as a safe and effective water disinfectant. From our testing, we observed that there is usually less of a chlorine taste in water treated with Ef Chlor than there is in any municipal tap water.
Ef Chlor is safe to handle, and unlike other water purification treatments such as Iodine or Chlorine Dioxide, it does not require gloves or protective eyewear to use. In fact, you can safely dissolve an Ef Chlor tablet right in the palm of your hand.
Ef Chlor is Used by all of the world‘s major aid agencies, NGOs, Organisation’s relief, peacekeeping/defense forces and Ministries of Health. Ef Chlor is also Used for water treatment by international tourists in the water systems of the RV / Campers. Just drop one tablet into one liter of water, wait for 30 minutes, and it is safe to drink!
Purification by chlorination is, however, not the perfect treatment method. Chlorinated water will inevitably be contaminated again if it is stored for an extended period. Like with most chemical purification methods, it alters the taste of the water.
More features: prevent cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other water borne disease; is used by NATO
The Aquatabs AQT100 Water Purification Tablets are excellent water purification tablets that are designed to provide you with very safe drinking water. These tablets are ultra-simple to use with very little work to be done. All you have to do is to make sure that your pill-to-water ratio is correct: that is your main task.
Marketing materials and labelling for these tablets indicate that they are effective in killing 99.99% of bacteria. While we do not know the exact percentage of microorganisms eliminated, we reckon it is quite a significant amount. The active ingredient in Aquatabs is sodium dichloroisocyanurate, which is common for these types of products. Dichloroiscyanurate is an ingredient that is inimical to several viruses and harmful stuff in the water. There are other ingredients present in the tablets, but, according to our research, the manufacturer does not list them all out specifically.
During our testing, we found that Aquatabs offers one of the best, most convenient and inexpensive ways to purify your water despite some minor concerns. Their greatest strength is their effectiveness since they work very well to kill nearly all bacteria existing in water. However, we would like to see a prominent, complete ingredient list to increase our peace of mind in this regard. Nevertheless, they are still a great product worth trying out.
Each Aquatab tablets helps to purify 0.75 liters of water, and it can purify water in 30 minutes, which is great, especially when you really need to drink water quickly. They make your water taste and smell better. One pack of Aquatabs contains 100 water purification tablets that can be used to treat up to 200 quarts of water.
Effective against: micro-organisms in water to prevent cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other water borne diseases
Wait time: 30 minutes
Shelf life: 5 years
More features: resealable zip-lock, waterproof, sunlight proof, rugged, compact and matte black
Expedition Research is a company that, with their TACH-H2O product, essentially repackages and labels Aquatabs in order to appeal to fans of tactical gear. Standard Aquatabs come in a box of pre-packaged tablets that look a lot like other products you can find on the shelf of any drug store. Expedition Research took actual Aquatab packages and repackaged them inside of a sturdy tactical package. The package is heat-sealed and designed to keep your Aquatabs safe from the elements. This is also said to extend the shelf life of the tablets, making them even more appealing to survivalists and preppers. Again, our research indicates that these are simply Aquatab-brand tablets in a different package. Even individual tablets’ packaging is the same. However, the Expedition Research bundle is more expensive than just the standard tablets due to its strong outer packaging. Depending on what specific purpose and situations you think you may encounter, this price difference may not influence your choice, however.
Just like the standard Aquatabs, you will simply measure your water and add the appropriate number of tabs to achieve purification. One extra note about these is that the manufacturer does caution that once you break the seal on the package, it’s advisable to keep them in a cool place and free of sunlight to help preserve their shelf life. Each tablet weighs 49mg and can be used to treat up to 5 liters of water. In total, a single TAC-H2O pack can treat up to 500L of water.
The tablets are safety-heat sealed in a 4-layer, 140-micron thick Mylar pouch. The pouch features a resealable zip-lock; it is sunlight proof, as well as waterproof. It is also compact, rugged, and matte black.
Water treated with these tabs will be ready to drink in as little as 30 minutes.
These tablets are some of the fastest-acting tablets we have found on the market. Its active ingredient is Sodium dichloroisocyanurate. While some might find the packaging to be gimmicky, we really liked them. You can expect similar performance from these tablets as with the best water purification tablets on the market. These tablets will draw folks that like tactical gear, but if you aren’t after fancy packaging, you can opt for the less expensive options reviewed above.
More features: remove iodine taste and color from water
The Coleman Potable Aqua with PA Plus is a product that offers water disinfection and purification. Besides providing tablets that contain iodine, and that will kill lots of microorganisms that can harm you, it also provides neutralizing tablets that remove the taste of iodine and make the water clear. This two-step process is very effective and preferred compared with the one-step process.
However, the first process is the most important one because it’s the one that kills unwanted viruses, bacteria, fungi and others. The number of tablets contained by the two tiny bottles is not mentioned; however, from our testing, we observed that they are enough to purify 25 quarts of water. The two-step process has become increasingly popular, Coleman not being the only brand that provides it. However, its efficacy was demonstrated, so this product’s features make it an excellent choice for situations when you have to purify water whether you like it or not.
Buying the best water purification tablets is no easy task. There are several options available on the market, and you might be hardpressed to find the one that will serve your purposes. You have to consider several features that contribute to desirable results. In this section, we have discussed some of the essential features to consider before choosing a water purification tablet. We have also provided valuable information that you need to know about water purification tablets.
What are water purification tablets?
Water is everywhere. In fact, about 70% of the world is covered by water. Despite how common it is, only a small percentage is suitable for drinking. It is due to this disparity that water purification tablets exist. As the name implies, these tablets are designed to make unsuitable water safe to drink. We use these tablets to eliminate any bacteria, virus, and several other harmful substances from the water.
Water purification tablets refer to dissolvable tablets that purify water and make it safe for consumption. If you live in places or are traveling in conditions where there is no access to safe drinking water, you can use these small tablets to kill the harmful bacteria in the water that you have available.
Each tablet has an amount of water that it can purify at a time. Simply collect the water, add the pills, and wait for a set time before drinking.
How do water purification tablets work?
Water purification tablets kill pathogens in water to make it safe for human consumption. These tablets are usually found in backpacks of hikers, campers, or other outdoor enthusiasts to get drinking supplies from the water they find in the wild. These tablets are also used by international travelers and are even dispensed to victims of natural disasters where drinking water becomes difficult to find.
Water purification tablets usually contain chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or iodine. While different tablets might contain other active ingredients, these three chemicals are the most commonly found. These chemicals deactivate bacteria, parasitic protozoans, and viruses, thus turning them harmless and making the water safe for drinking.
To use these tablets, one or more of them are dissolved in a container of water, and the container is closed and allowed to sit for 30 minutes or more. Some types of tablets leave behind an unpleasant taste. Iodine neutralizer tablets can be used to neutralize iodine’s flavor. Chlorine flavor can be removed by allowing the treated water to sit uncovered so the chlorine can evaporate.
Unlike purification techniques involving boiling, filtration or ultraviolet radiation, water purification tablets require no special equipment, power or fuel. Water purification tablets are frequently used as a backup for other techniques in case of equipment failure. Because water purification tablets are small and lightweight, they are often included in survival and emergency kits.
Water purification tablets do not remove sediment or chemical pollutants. Chemically purifying water containing sediment requires additional time and a heavier concentration of chemicals. It’s better to filter sediment out of the water before using purification tablets. Some chemicals are less effective, or ineffective, against certain types of microorganisms, particularly protozoans. Chlorine dioxide is the most effective at killing a wide range of microorganisms but requires a longer treatment time than iodine or chlorine.
Chlorine vs Iodine vs Chlorine Dioxide
They are several types of water purification tablets. Earlier, we revealed that these tablets could contain one of chlorine, iodine, and chlorine dioxide.
The first two – chlorine and iodine – are ideal against the Giardia lamblia parasite. The last chemical (chlorine dioxide) is highly effective against bacteria, viruses, cysts, as well as cryptosporidium – unlike chlorine and iodine tablets. Let’s consider each of these chemicals.
The tablets that contain this chemical are widely used for their water purification purposes. One of their biggest downsides is the fact that the water they treat can easily get contaminated again if left in storage for too long.
On top of that, they also leave an aftertaste of chlorine. You can get partially rid of it by leaving the bottle open and letting it evaporate.
On the other hand, iodine-based tablets are believed to be more effective in warmer water. If you use them in cool water, the tablets should be left to react with the liquid for about 30 minutes.
Keep in mind that these tablets leave an aftertaste as well. However, instead of waiting for it to evaporate, you can use vitamin C to neutralize the smell after the purification process is completed.
Naturally, people suffering from thyroid issues should avoid using this type of tablets!
Chlorine Dioxide-Based Tablets
Probably due to the fact that it is a compound chemical, chlorine dioxide is known as the most efficient chemical that can be contained within a water purification tablet. Chlorine dioxide-based tablets can destroy a wide array of microorganisms.
Moreover, chlorine dioxide is used in cities for water purification!
Tablets with this chemical can destroy viruses, bacteria, as well as cryptosporidium. Their main downside is the fact that chlorine dioxide takes much longer to treat water – up to four hours.
Chlorine or Iodine?
Unlike salt for water softeners, water purification tablets have two primary chemicals that they use to purify water – either iodine or chlorine.
These two are used mainly because they are lightweight, easy to use, and low cost. The big debate between the two is caused by the fact that both chemicals can affect and severely damage our health if not used responsibly and safely.
As mentioned, many times so far, iodine is the perfect ally – in water purification tablets – against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. However, cold weather makes iodine take more time to purify water.
On top of that, iodine has been proved to absorb into the debris and dirt that are naturally found in water. This means that the dosage meant for treating water will always vary.
Moreover, iodine should be used for short-term purposes only, as extended use can cause thyroid problems and damage one’s health for a long time.
Obviously, a lot of people do not like the taste iodine leaves behind, which is probably the main reason why people head towards chlorine.
The second chemical purifier is chlorine bleach, as it is by Ef-Chlor Water Purification Tablets, which uses a process called chlorination to make debris and dirt settle to the bottom of a water-filled container. As a result, the water will be visually clearer.
It is advised that people should use unscented household bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite for treating water. The Red Cross mentions that, when you use bleach to purify, you should add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and then let the recipient stand for 30 minutes.
Then, if the water is not accompanied by a slight odor of bleach, you should repeat the dosage and let the container stand for another 15 minutes.
This method comes with a lot of drawbacks. For example, if the bleach is more than six months old, it may not be potent enough to disinfect. On top of that, chlorine is known to be a highly poisonous chemical. Adding too much to water can cause internal organ damage, illness, and even death.
Now, you can clearly see why chlorine dioxide exists. It is seen by some as an alternative to the quite unhealthy, so to speak, iodine and chlorine. For instance, iodine should not be used by pregnant women. At the same time, we don’t think that someone would use water treated with chlorine if they were pregnant.
Therefore, they choose the middle path and settle for a 4-hour long purification process where the risks are somewhat diminished.
Who can use water purification tablets
Water purification tablets have several practical uses. Here are some of them.
For Fast Backcountry Travelers
Travelers from or in remote areas do enjoy their good-old mechanical filters. However, most of them would rather stay light in terms of equipment and rely on water purification tablets.
For example, people that handle on-foot transportation of goods, mechanics, farmers, and such would obviously want to keep their luggage at minimum weight. With the help of such tablets, they don’t even need to pack water when leaving for the day and with Expedition Research LLC TAC-H2O they also get a convenient storage option with a resealable zip-lock packaging.
For Victims of Disaster and Communities in Developing Nations
After a disaster – or in a developing world – water usually needs to be purified instead of just filtrated. This is so that the viruses that spread to humans through human waste are killed for good. Naturally, basic filters and filtration processes can’t do this.
On top of that, NGOs that operate abroad can easily supply certain countries with water purification tablets, given the way they are packaged – they can be labeled as non-hazardous goods.
For Remote Villages
As you may know, many remote villages throughout the world lack the typical infrastructure required for water treatment. In such places, water purification tabs are probably the best and only way to share the advantages of chlorine/iodine with those that cannot enjoy them.
On top of that, a steady supply of water purification tablets to such areas will improve the health of the community and decrease the risk of certain diseases to be transmitted to visitors and such.
Basically, something as simple as a water tablet will not only provide people with water safe to drink but will also drastically improve their health – and even increase their life expectancy due to the clean water they drink.
After all, as military, you might get stuck in a remote area with no access to potable water. In short, something as tiny as water purification tablets have a major impact on global health. Such products can provide people all over the world with safer drinking water, as well as with healthier living conditions.
Things to consider before buying the best water purification tablets
When purchasing water purification tablets don’t forget to pay attention at the following features.
Number in the pack
The more tablets that are in the pack, the better. However, you should be careful that the high number of tablets doesn’t reduce the quality of the tablets.
Some manufacturers will require that you add more than one tablet for effective treatment of the water. Others might require you to add two tablets to 1 liter of water.
Since these tablets are usually carried by hikers, campers, and folks that do not want to carry plenty of weight, the tablets are best in a small, lightweight form. This way, they can be easily transported.
It usually ranges from 30 minutes to 4 hours. Make sure you always follow the instructions and wait as long as needed for the treatment process to complete. In many cases, the longer the wait time, the more effective and thorough it is likely to be for water treatment.
Some tablets come individually wrapped, making them maintain their 5-year shelf life, while bottled tablets have it reduced to one year after the bottle is opened. If you will be using it for a long time, or want to save money, it is better to buy one with a long shelf life.
As with several other products on the market, these products come in a wide variety of prices. Hence, find the price point that will be comfortable for you.
Alternatives to water purification tablets
These tablets do not remove chemical pollutants or physical particles, and the best way of filtering water is still to use a water filter jug or methods like charcoal filtration and reverse osmosis. Using a specialized water filter beats purification tablets on almost every count as they purify water that is cleaner and tastes better. Tablets should only be used when there are no other options and as a last resort.
Water purification tablets have a five-year shelf life if they aren’t opened. After the bottle is opened, the tablets might lose their effectiveness if not protected properly. It is recommended to seal the container after opening tightly, and the contents should be used in no more than a year. You should keep the tablets away from high temperatures, light, air, and high humidity.
In small quantities and when taken infrequently, water purification tablets are safe. However, most manufacturers indicate that it should not be used regularly in drinking water as it might have detrimental effects on health. Water purification tablets will make contaminated water safe to drink. However, if the water is heavily contaminated, it might not be able to keep you safe.
The following general precautions are recommended when using water purification tablets. Do not swallow tablets. If tablets are swallowed, seek medical advice immediately and show outside packaging. Wash after handling. Do not mix with other products. Store in a cool, dry place.
So there you have it; the best water purification tablets on the market today! Our top pick, the Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets is a nice blend of price and safe performance. It doesn’t leave too bad a taste in the mouth and will eliminate a large number of contaminants. If you are on a budget, you will likely enjoy the Coghlan’s Drinking Water Tablets. It delivers a decent protective performance while coming at a meager price. The Aquatabs AQT100 Water Purification Tablets are the best value options on the market from our testing. They are super easy to use and will serve correctly as long as you measure out the right amount of water. They are meant for short-term use alone and not for regular use. Use this guide and review in selecting the best water purification tablets today!